The Association for Mental Health and Wellness (MHAW) was awarded a $375,000 grant from the federal Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to provide Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training for more than 2,000 citizens in Suffolk County.
The initiative – called #MHStrong – targets people and communities who are involved with three populations where mental health challenges exist: Veterans, high-risk and gang-vulnerable youth, and people with mental health conditions in the criminal justice system.
Mental Health First Aid is an evidence-based training that shows individuals how to recognize the signs of mental and emotional distress. Trainees learn risk factors and warning signs for mental health and addiction concerns, along with the right strategies for helping someone in both crisis and non-crisis situations.
Just as CPR helps people assist other individuals having a heart attack, even if they lack medical training, Mental Health First Aid trains people to properly assist someone experiencing a mental health-related crisis.
Over the course of an eight-hour workshop, trainees receive a basic understanding of various mental health challenges, including substance abuse, their impact on a person’s daily life as well as appropriate pathways for accessing services and support, including peer and family support as well as treatment.